It was a cloudy, humid Friday in June, and Weston’s alarm had been buzzing for 10 minutes before he finally acknowledged and hit it. Weston laid in his bed, his back uncomfortably sweaty because his bed sheet detached from his mattress during the night, and thought of what was waiting for him that day. His father was already gone to work, and would return around 9 pm after an 18 hour shift at the… Well, never understood what his father did, even though he’d explained it countless times.
Weston took the Public Transit bus to school since he missed his school bus that morning. The interior of bus was littered with advertisements, varying from political ads promoting the various candidates for the next election and their different, but, as Weston believed, were in the end similar, political views. One of the ads included one of the candidates in the foreground with an army helmet in his hand, and B-52 bombers and tanks in the background. The text read: “President Breagan: Prepared for Peace.” Weston’s eyes then fell upon the CCTV camera on the bus, which underneath, read: “For your own safety, you may be monitored by video and audio recorders.” Weston was happy when the bus finally arrived at his stop, he couldn’t stand listening to the boom box that the man sitting next to him was wielding on his shoulder. Weston’s portable cassette player’s batteries were out of juice and he couldn’t afford to buy new ones for the time being so he settled to humming “Hey You” under his breath. The boom box was set to a radio station that repeated the same simple pop songs, blended with a heavy dose of advertisements and commentary on world events from neo-conservative radio hosts disguised as youthful, humble and in-sync disc jockeys.
Weston walked into school forty-five minutes late, but he only had English class for first period, so he was fine with arriving late and decided to go sit in the cafeteria until History class. He sat down at one of the tables and started to review his notes for next class. He noticed that in class, they studied only the wars that were won and all that were lost weren’t discusses but when they were brought up, the teacher would say something along the lines of: “Well, historians still aren’t sure who came out victorious” or would talk about how both sides lost the war.
He wrote down his thoughts and as he walked out, noticed the camera in the cafeteria following him. When the bell rang, Weston met his friends at the lockers and answered them when they asked why he missed first period. They told him about a dystopian novel they started reading and how they had assigned reading that would take at least two hours to finish. He overheard someone say to a classmate: “Man, I’d hate to live in a world like that.” As they walked to History class, the Principal, who seemed to be the only energetic one in the halls, was standing with a speaker at his mouth, shouting: “Smile! You’re in a free country! Only 7 hours ‘till you can all go home.” Weston knew that this wasn’t the case, since he would have to go work until 11pm that night to help support his family and save money for university, which was becoming the socially accepted route nowadays.
He sat in the back of class. In the first few minutes, the announcements were projected over the gritty speakers on the ceiling of the class, which included schedules for clubs and organized sports, and finally the National Anthem, which everyone patriotically and “respectfully” rose for, without paying much attention to it since it’s what they were taught during their schooling at an early age - something about living in a glorious, free and strong motherland, in which we would defend our home from invaders and bring glory to the historic land of our forefathers. The history teacher would always talk about the importance of first understanding to fully enjoy the national anthem. Weston saw it as nationalistic brainwash, and was often compelled to stay seated, but chose not to for fear of alienation and ridicule.
Weston and his friend, Julianne, sat next to each other in history class and would talk about how ridiculous the course was. They thought they were the only ones who noticed how history would continuously repeat itself. Their teacher would always talk about how studying history was important because it would always happen again, but never noticed when it truly did because the propaganda in the mainstream media made the events seem too legitimate. For example, the duo noticed that the country they recently went to war with was at one time an ally in a previous war. The nation which was once aided by Weston’s nation a decade or two ago had become a country so dangerous not because of their nuclear weapons, but because of the men who controlled these weapons of mass destruction. These men were painted as religiously extreme, unpredictable, and worse, were oppressive to the liberties and rights of their nation’s people. These facts plastered across the evening news on Weston’s television and the newspapers, but he could see through it, and he wanted to do something about this wrongdoing from his glorious country.
He was free for an hour between school and work, so he spent it with Julianne. He was thinking of ways that he could affect the outcome of this war-mongering media frenzy as he walked through the suburbs with his friend. They walked through streets lined with dilapidated houses that were rotting like the country they lived in and checked out the half torn billboards that read: “Economic Action Plan” and others were so faded you could only make out words like “liberty”, and “democracy”. Julianne wanted to go lay down in one of the empty houses with Weston, which, at first thought, seemed like a good idea to him, but he then realised that he had to work soon and they parted ways. On his way to work, he decided that if he was going to start an uprising, he would have to stop seeing Julianne.
He got to work and put on his uniform. As he worked, he began to realize there was nothing he could do, the government and the corporations controlling the nation, the world, the mind, were too strong. He stood, smiling as he served customers and sent them off with an empty “Have a nice day.” How could a teenage boy change the mentality of a population controlled psychologically, physically, and technologically when he, a child, a servant, a wage slave, couldn’t even control the amount of hours he was forced to work, or even finish his homework? He knew any attempt to organize an uprising would be crushed by the always watchful police state. There were no meeting areas that weren’t under the watchful eye of the CCTV. He thought there was no hope other than some grand gesture that would be acknowledged by many, and hopefully understood by enough to plant the idea of a revolution.
He walked home in the dark, staring up at the stars. He accepted the idea that life had no meaning, which he believed was much more motivating to live a fulfilling life than any deity can bring. As he sat in a chair in his room, he thought of his place in the world. Weston realised he had to get the most attention possible from his revolutionary action without considering the effect it would have on himself. He cared more for the future and for the planet than his own well-being.
Weston sat, thinking, until the sun came up. It was 6 am, an hour before the town square would be at its busiest. He grabbed a book of matches and went to his father’s shed and filled a bottle with gasoline. The smell made him dizzier than he was already. As he slowly walked through the streets, he imagined what his act of rebellion might bring. But he realised that in the end, it didn’t matter, because he was doing it just as much for himself as he was for society.
He could see the City Square down the hill, a sea of pedestrians walking to work or school or just walking. Smoke from all the cars was almost opaque. He heard police sirens growing louder and louder, and realised that the cameras on every streetlamp noticed his peculiar walking pace, the emotion in his face, the gasoline in one hand and the book of matches in the other. He started sprinting towards the more crowded streets. One of the Policemen got out of his vehicle and yelled: “Stop, Weston! Or we’ll shoot you!” Weston didn’t hear him though, neither could he hear the cars squealing to a halt and honking at him as he ran through the busy streets. Suddenly, everything stopped, and a bullet was entering his brain. He fell in the middle of the street, and a crowd formed around him before the police could control the situation and disperse the alarmed people. There was a news station already there, since they were just previously getting the opinions from people walking to work on the upcoming elections. Someone checked the dead boy’s pockets for any identification, but only found a handwritten note, which he read aloud.